The Telangana legislative assembly has passed the Telangana Gaming (Amendment) Bill, 2017 today after a brief discussion. The Bill, introduced by state Home Minister Naini Narshimha Reddy seeks to convert the two Ordinances that were promulgated by the state government earlier this year into a proper legislation.
Reddy while giving a brief statement explaining the features of the Bill, stated that gambling has had a very bad effect on the standard of life and that the state government has over the past three years raided and shut down many gambling clubs.
He added that using loopholes, gambling companies moved online and have attracted large number of youth with lure of huge rewards, consequently economically and socially devastating families.
The minister further stated that by way of the current amendments all games (including games of skill) that involve money have been included under the ambit of gambling and have been made cognisable and non-bailable offences. He added that several Hyderabad headquartered companies are promoting online rummy and making crores of rupees of profits while ruining women, children, college-goers and teenagers.
Reddy also noted that the ordinance banning online rummy has been applauded by the people, especially by women groups.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and MLA, G Kishan Reddy while participating in the discussion asked the government whether any clubs are currently operating using the 1967 Supreme Court decision that ruled rummy to be a game of skill. He added that the state government needs to coordinate with the central government and completely eradicate online games.
Interestingly, the legislative assembly also passed a Bill amending the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land-Grabbers Act, 1986 on 9th November (the said Bill has been approved by the legislative council on 10th November and since it deals with certain subjects relating to the concurrent list of the constitution, it will be sent to the President of India for his assent).
The amendment to the Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act now brings within its ambit offences committed under the Telangana Gaming Act, 1974.
Under the said Bill, ‘gaming offenders’, i.e. those who have committed or abetted offences under the Telangana Gaming Act are now subject to draconian preventive detention provisions. Any person who is accused of committing a ‘gaming offence’ can now be detained by an order of the Commissioner of Police or District Magistrate for a total period of upto one year, without any trial or bail. Such an order by the state government authorities is however subject to ratification by an Advisory Board comprising of jurists nominated by the state government.
The Gaming Amendment Bill will now be sent to the legislative council for ratification and thereafter it will be sent to the Governor for assent. After the Governor indicates his assent, the Bill will have the force of law.